retrospective

Today’s the last day of the year, and for about a week, retrospectives of the year and the decade have been filling my Google Reader with bests and worsts of, lists, and general nostalgia.  While I maintain that we still have a year to go in the decade before we can wrap it all up and tie it with a bow (think about it, there was no year 0 A.D.), I see the argument that we don’t consider 1990 part of the 80s, so I guess I’ll let it slide.

I thought of writing a decade retrospective of my own, but remembered that ten years ago I was only 15, so what the hell do I know. Still, it’s good to look at where we’ve been before thinking of where we’re headed.

On the New Year’s Eve that was known as Y2K, my mom made my sister and me stay home, because she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. We didn’t stockpile food or firearms or anything weird like that, but we did stay at home and play Monopoly, because Lord knows what the crazies were going to be up to that night.  Lo and behold, our computer, a behemoth Gateway that came in one of those dang ol’ cow boxes, didn’t up and explode at the stroke of midnight, and the world kept on spinning.

Then it felt like it stopped for a bit about a year later, on 9/11, when I watched the Towers fall live in U.S. History class.

I turned 16 a few months later, although it wasn’t much of a milestone, since I was freaked out at the thought of driving and didn’t get my license until a year later.

I turned 18. I graduated from high school.  I got a job at a summer camp and met the love of my life.

I went off to Lyon College.  I met some of the best friends I’ll ever have.  I learned how to drink.  I voted in my first presidential election, for John Kerry, and got into a huge fight with Jon when I found out that not only had he voted for Bush, he thought it “didn’t really matter anyway.” It was the only time he’s ever hung up on me.

My parents adopted a foster child, now my youngest sister.  She has Autism. I was so proud of my parents, and so impressed with the progress she made from the minute she arrived in our home.

Hurricane Katrina decimated the coast.  We watched in horror as people not that far from us lost everything.  Many refugees ended up in Arkansas.  Some of them ended up in our classrooms.

On the way to Thanksgiving dinner at my Meme and Papa’s, I hydroplaned and Jon and I ended up in a ditch.  The airbag kicked my ass, and after an ambulance ride and a lot of pain and a lot of meds, we discovered that I had fractured three vertebrae. I learned that I have an extra vertebrae. I became 1/4″ shorter on my left side. I discovered that my fear of needles is so severe I’ll refuse a pain shot, even with a broken back.  I realized Jon was the man I wanted to marry when he was the one who took care of me after the wreck.

Jon and I got engaged.

I lost my grandfather, and with him, for a time, my faith.

Jon and I got married.

I found my way back to faith.

We found out Jon had matched in Charleston, SC for a residency in pediatrics.

I graduated from college, and Jon graduated from medical school.  I finally got to go to England, though I missed getting to go to Jon’s graduation.

We bought our first house, moved over 1,000 miles from everyone we loved, and started the three hardest years of our lives.  We got our first dog, Bessie.  I got my first post-college job and learned what it means to live below expectations, learned creative ways to avoid saying “I’m just a secretary,” wondered why I don’t know what the heck to do with myself, a BA in English and Political Science, and my life.

We spent as much time as possible at the beach.  We made new friends.  We found new rhythms.  We made a new life in a new place.  We ate a lot of real seafood.

I lost my job when the economy crashed.  I spent time in the unemployment office. I discovered just how measly unemployment benefits really are.  I realized how fortunate I was to be able to get health insurance through my husband’s job.  I became even more passionate about causes I believe in. I volunteered for the Obama campaign. We both voted for him.  I cried as election results came in– Jon was post-call, so he was sleeping on the couch next to me.

We got a second dog, Olive.

I got a new job, almost exactly a year ago, at a college.  I started taking graduate English classes and finally felt smart again, had something to be good at.

I stood in a freezing cold Marion Square to watch the inauguration with other Charlestonians.  I cried again.

We became passionate about more sustainable food and discovered the emerging church movement.

We found out Jon had matched in Little Rock, AR, for a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine.

We started wondering what our next decade will hold.

So. I guess you could say that the biggest takeaway for me in the last decade is that I grew up.  I found love, I found grief, I lost and found my faith, I found strength, I found independence and dependence, I found myself.  I look forward to the next 10 years.

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